SSAA backs rehabilitation venture for war veterans

The SSAA has lent its backing to a project designed to help military servicemen and women suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trojan’s Trek is a program that has its origins in South Australia, with war veterans rallying to assist their peers via means of outdoor support therapy.

One of the driving forces behind the initiative is Moose Dunlop OAM, who operates as project director. Moose served as an officer in the Australian Army for 25 years, including a 12-month tour of duty in Vietnam as platoon commander, retiring as a Lt Col in 1985. During his career, he fulfilled postings in New Guinea, Sydney, South Vietnam, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. A lot of the other Trojan’s Trek crew are Vietnam veterans who have first-hand knowledge of what contemporary soldiers may have gone through.

The program has been operating out of South Australia for about seven years, but around 12 months ago, Trojan’s Trek opted to try to expand into South East Queensland, which is when the SSAA came into the picture.

Queensland trek director Peter Keith is a member of SSAA Qld Conservation & Wildlife Management Branch and is often found hunting in the Millmerran area. As such, Peter was familiar with the SSAA facilities at the Captains Mountain project. He thought the zone could be utilised for the Trojan’s Trek foray into new territory in Queensland, so he got in touch with SSAA National President Geoff Jones. Along with on-site manager Brett Ward, Geoff offered his unequivocal cooperation and opened the doors of the Captains Mountain range for the benefit of the male veterans on the debut Queensland outing. So Trojan’s Trek made use of the splendid setting at the Captains Mountain complex, which comes under the umbrella of SSAA Millmerran.

“We at the SSAA are an organisation genuinely empathetic to what these fellows have been through,” said Geoff. “We don’t pretend to understand the hardships that they suffered, but if we can help them in any way, then that’s great. It is a privilege to be able to offer some support and assistance.”

A major aim of Trojan’s Trek is to provide a situation and conditions under which participants experience a lasting positive shift in personal values and interpersonal relationships. To that end, the SSAA Queensland acreage delivered a fitting environment to follow these guidelines.

“I have to say the SSAA facilities up at the Queensland range are absolutely fantastic,” said Moose. “I was very impressed. I reckon you could feed 250 out of that kitchen. There was a huge hallway, great kitchen facilities and there seemed to be about 10 different sorts of ranges.”

From August 9 to 14, the foundation used the area to kick-start the Queensland operation. The first and final nights were spent in the actual base, with the other four evenings as a group living and learning experience in the bush. “We took about 26 out into the bush and it was a great success. The weather, facilities – everything worked wonderfully well for the trek,” said Moose.

“The Foundation would like to publicly extend our thanks to Geoff and Brett for their support and no-nonsense approach to getting the job done,” said Moose. “I feel sure it will be the start of a long and productive relationship.”

When asked if there would be additional bush treks, Moose said, “It will be up to the Board to decide if we operate another Queensland outing similar to this one. But at this stage I think that would likely be ‘yes’.”

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